A Cook County grand jury indicted three veteran Chicago police officers Tuesday on charges of conspiracy, official misconduct, and obstruction of justice, accusing the officers of working together to cover up for their colleague who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.
The first police report stated that officers David March, Joseph Walsh, and Thomas Gaffney were "victims" of McDonald, claiming he assaulted them before Officer Jason Van Dyke came to intervene. McDonald lunged toward him with a knife, and that's when Van Dyke shot him 16 times, the report said. One year later, dashcam footage of the incident was released that completely refuted the report, showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald as he walked away. Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder, and pleaded not guilty.
Special Prosecutor Patricia Holmes Brown said in a statement that the indictment "makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial 'code of silence.' Rather, it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth." If convicted, the officers face years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines, the prosecutor said. March spent more than 30 years on the force, while Walsh and Gaffney were Chicago police officers for more than 20 years. Walsh and Marsh are no longer officers, and Gaffney has been suspended, NPR reports.